By HEATHER R. SMITH,
Times-Mail Staff Writer
To a woman in New Jersey, Bedford resident Bridgett Owens is an
angel - a
Owens participates in an Internet project where people who
"angels" send encouraging cards and gifts to cancer patients
chemotherapy or other treatments.
Owens was assigned to the woman in Peapack, N.J., in early
March. The women, a mother of two sons, ages 2 and 4, suffers
from bone sarcoma.
Owens got her first assignment - or as the program calls it, got
her wings -
on Christmas Eve of 2001. But her first patient died in January.
Owens was a special assignment angel until she got her new
Special assignment angels send cards to someone who already has
a full-time angel but needs extra encouragement.
Owens sends cards to her patient every week and small gifts on
birthdays and special occasions. Inside her cards, she includes
such as bookmarks, pass-it-on cards and stickers, and she
envelope with stickers and artwork.
She also drops in poems or jokes she finds on the Internet and
"Anything that might cheer her up," Owens said.
Owens recently met with another Indiana Chemo Angel, Judy Price
Edinburgh. The two women met at the Golden Corral in Bedford to
support to each another and share gift ideas.
The women also made a trip to the Bedford post office to drop
"They know my face I am there (the post office) so much," Owens
There are 30 Chemo Angels in Indiana, including one in Salem and
Owens has helped people she doesn't personally know since she
was a child. She began by sponsoring children in other
The agency she worked through did not require her to send money
but rather small gifts mailed to the sponsored child on
birthdays and holidays and special times of the year.
"I've always helped with children that are sick and I got onto
two web sites
for sick kids -
On one of those sites Owens found a link to the Chemo Angels web
"We believe that people who are going through the physical,
mental rigors of chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or other
cancer therapies deserve some pampering and special treatment,"
Chemo Angel's founder Laura Armstrong writes on her web site.
"Many of our Chemo Angel volunteers are cancer survivors
people whose lives have been affected by cancer in some way. We
homemakers, professionals, retired people, and students. Our
denominator is a desire to brighten the lives of cancer patients
are going through this challenging time."
The idea for Chemo Angels stemmed from the relationship between
Armstrong and a woman going through chemotherapy. Armstrong met
the woman online and sent cards and small gifts every week to
encourage her while she endured her treatments.
After the treatments ended, the woman expressed thanks to
Armstrong and gave her the nickname "Chemo Angel."
From that first experience, Armstrong started the Web site to
people the opportunity to encourage those who need it.
For more information or to apply as a patient or angel, go to
"When pain and anguish wring the brow, a ministering angel
-- Sir Walter Scott
POLK COUNTY -- Four years ago, Debbie Wells' mother died of
cancer on Christmas Eve.
A friend directed her to a Website for an organization called
ChemoAngels. The Monmouth woman knew she had to become an angel
"I knew I would be a ChemoAngel for the rest of my life."
ChemoAngels are men and women all over the world who send
gifts of love and encouragement to cancer patients through the
Every patient in the program is assigned an angel. The angels
send their charges a card at least twice a week, and a package
once a week.
The group was founded by Laura Armstrong of Julian, Calif.,
two years ago. It has erupted.
Many of the Angels are cancer survivors. Some were "angeled"
by someone during their own treatment. These angels want to give
back some of what was given to them.
Wells, a mother of four and the owner of Debbie's Clayground,
said she has felt such joy from volunteering. Still, angeling
someone through chemotherapy can have its painful moments.
Wells has had three patients in the past two years. One of
them did not survive.
"When they go you just have to take a deep breath and a
couple of months off," she said.
It's still worth it, she said.
"How do you love these people that you've never met? It's
amazing to me, it really is."
Although they've never met, Wells' and her patients have
formed special ties.
Wells' first patient still calls her almost three times a
week just to catch up and stay a part of her life.
Because of the serious nature of this project, potential
angels are encouraged to think long and hard before applying to
Helping a patient isn't the only benefit, Wells' points out.
She has made deep, rich friendships with other angels around the
The angels are always there to welcome a newcomer to the
program, and to provide new ideas to long-time angels.
Armstrong, who was nominated last year for Woman of the Year
in America, understands that not everybody can be a full-time
To provide varying levels of commitment, she's set up the
program to include Card Angels and Support Angels.
Card Angels send cards to a patient who already has a
full-time angel. Support angels help the program by donating
Every angel pays for postage and gifts out of their own
The ChemoAngels have enough love and dedication to keep them
going a long time, Wells said. But they really need is more
volunteers, she said.
After being featured on a Portland television show, Wells
estimates the organization grew by 1,000. But after the
volunteers stopped coming in, patients continued to flood into
Wells encourages everybody to check out the site and consider
being an angel.
More details about ChemoAngels can be found at the web-site: